What is Horchata?
Horchata is a sweet beverage made from grains or nuts and seasoned with spices. This plant-based beverage has a white and creamy appearance. What is regarded as the traditional recipe is produced in Spain from tiger nuts, sugar, and water, creating a taste similar to rice pudding.
Some common variations include:
- horchata de chufa (Spain)
- horchata de arroz (Mexico)
- horchata de morro (El Salvador)
- horchata de jicaro (Nicaragua)
- horchata de jicaro (Honduras)
- horchata de ajonjolí (Puerto Rico)
- horchata lojala (Ecuador)
Horchata has been in existence for a long time with different cultures and civilizations consuming this drink in one form or another. One notable version of this drink is “horchata de chufa”, which is made primarily from ground and sweetened tiger nuts. Horchata de chufa has its roots in North Africa around 2400 BC. When the Romans conquered Egypt, the drink was discovered, nicknamed “hordeata”, and valued for its ability to cool and refresh the body. The general advice was that people should drink it to lower high body temperatures and cool down on hot days.
In the 8th century, the Moors were responsible for bringing this beverage to Spain and West Africa. Residents of France, England, and Spain loved the drink for its richness and supposed health benefits. Colonization caused this beverage to move from Spain to Mexico, where the local version of this drink is made primarily of rice. This drink spread to South and North America where it evolved with different ingredients and recipes. However, the traditional recipe remains very popular in the Spanish city of Valencia to this day.
In 322g of this drink, there are:
Tiger nuts serve as a significant ingredient in horchata de chufa. Here are some health benefits that these nuts offer:
- They may be able to decrease blood sugar levels due to an increase in insulin sensitivity and production.
- These nuts can improve heart health because they contain monounsaturated fats.
- Their insoluble fiber content can aid digestion and bowel movements.
- Tiger nuts may be able to strengthen the immune system and fight diseases.
- They are rich in nutrients and also provide antioxidants to protect from certain diseases.
Tiger nuts have no significant side effects. However, you may feel unpleasant bloating and gas, if you integrate them into your diet too quickly.
The first stage in the commercial production of this drink is to wash the tiger nuts. When the nuts are clean, they undergo rehydration for some hours before they are drained and prepared for blending. Then, the nuts are added to water before they are crushed and ground to produce the creamy beverage. Finally, the resulting liquid is filtered, bottled, capped, labeled, and stored until ready for sale.
The global market for plant-based beverages was valued at $11.16 billion in 2018. This value is expected to reach $19.67 billion by 2023.
If you want to make this drink at home, these tips may be helpful.
- Try experimenting with hazelnuts or cashews to make the drink.
- After you have soaked the ingredients for a while, use a blender to blend them.
- Add some honey or a sweetener to your final beverage.
Fresh beverages can last for about ten days in the fridge. If you want to check whether or not the drink has gone bad, you will know from its odor. Should the beverage have an unpleasant smell, dispose of it immediately.
This traditional drink can be enjoyed in many different ways. Here are some popular recipes:
The Food and Drug Administration has no current regulations that pertain to the production or processing. However, the organization classifies cinnamon as a substance that is safe for its intended use. Cinnamon is a common ingredient in some versions of this beverage. The FDA also has strict regulations regarding the labeling of added sugars on nutrition labels. Producers of these beverages must adhere to these regulations to be compliant.
Kenyon, Chelsie. “Horchata: A Traditional Grain Beverage.” The Spruce Eats, The Spruce Eats, 24 Aug. 2020, www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-horchata-2342861.
Petre, Alina. “6 Emerging Health Benefits of Tiger Nuts.“ www.healthline.com, Healthline Media, 23 Nov. 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/tiger-nuts.
“Plant-Based Beverages Market.” www.marketsandmarkets.com, Market Research Firm, Oct. 2018, www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/plant-based-beverage-market-34414144.html.